Here are some fun tips to help you Plan Your Canning Garden

Spring is around the corner and nothing has me more excited than the snow melting, the birds chirping and knowing I will soon be back out in my garden again.  Actually, it is seeing the plans I laid out during the cold winter months come to life that have me most excited for spring!

I love to grow plants and vegetables year-after-year using heirloom seeds and natural growing methods.  Many of you may think I have acres and rows of crops growing throughout the season; however, my garden is actually quite small.  Giving my yard space and the fact I have clay, creating a garden which suited my space and growing conditions proved to be an initial challenge.

Knowing I needed to control the soil nutrients my solution was to grow all of my vegetables in raised container gardens.  I use crop rotation and succession planting to keep up with my family’s demands as well as my canning calendar.  I have three 4’ by 8’ beds and two 2’ by 3’ beds giving me 108 square feet of growing space.  For this reason I use the Square-Foot Gardening Method helping me organize my containers to grow according to how I home can and preserve.

When using container gardens one must give special attention to the health of the soil.  For this I use a variety of methods.   One of my favorite mixtures I use when adding nutrients to my soil is compost and manure.  Not many people have a readymade supply of manure handy nor do they compost their own kitchen scraps so I was pleased to see a Michigan based company step up to provide us with this natural organic matter.  Morgan Composting out of Sears, Michigan, created Dairy Doo.  They have a variety of amendable dairy compost mixtures to use in different situations and are available on store shelves across our state.

When planning your garden, I suggest planning its contents based on what you foresee home canning and preserving.  Starting a Canning Calendar will help you visual what needs to be grown or purchased to keep up with your canning and preserving schedule.  For me, I know there are a variety of vegetables I must have on my pantry shelves to enjoy when the first snowfall hits.  However, because of my limited growing space, there are some foods I rely on purchasing from a local organic grower.

There are many fun ways to incorporate home canning into your garden planning.  Here are a few ideas to help you plan your spring garden and add to your canning calendar:

A Salsa Garden – being a staple for many canners, salsa has a variety of ingredients which can be grown in the home garden.  Setting aside space in your garden or devoting a raised bed to incorporate these delicious ingredients will help ensure you have plenty of fresh produce on hand to make your favorite salsa blend.  Items such as bell peppers, jalapenos, cilantro, onions, tomatillos and tomatoes will create the perfect Salsa Garden.

Root Crop Container – having a ready supply of root crops on hand during the winter months is easier than you think.  Preserving these foods can be accomplished in many ways such as canning, pickling, dry storage and freezing.  Planning a specific space to grow a variety of the items you intend to preserve will round out your garden.  Items such as carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes, radishes, turnips and beets are excellent choices when planning a Root Crop Garden.

Pickling Fun – yes it is true, you can pickle or ferment just about anything, so there are many different recipes you can use when planning what to grow in your garden space.  If you’re like me, not everything I pickle starts and ends with a cucumber.  Although cukes are an excellent choice and mainstay for many, consider fermentation when planning your garden. Incorporate items such as cabbage, carrots, Brussels sprouts and asparagus into your pickling mix.

Combining your love for home canning and preserving with your adventures in gardening will ensure you have plenty of fresh produce on hand this growing season!  For more gardening tips and canning recipes visit me at

Diane Devereaux,
The Canning Diva